Report: Leaders Want More, Better In-Person Staff Meetings

The report from Cvent finds that team leaders are committed to hybrid workforces, but looking at ways to increase engagement.

A new report finds that organization leaders see increasing value in in-person staff meetings, even with a more distributed workforce.

The 2024 U.S. Internal Meetings Impact Report, released last week, is based on a survey of business leaders conducted by the events technology firm Cvent in collaboration with the Harris Poll. The survey found that more than three-fourths of respondents (78 percent) say in person or face-to-face meetings are “absolutely necessary” or “very important,” while 89 percent say “internal meetings are an important part of the future workplace.”

A majority of leaders say their staffs are experiencing virtual-meeting fatigue.

That doesn’t mean that leaders are abandoning the hybrid workplace: A majority of respondents (56 percent) said the future work environment will be more hybrid or remote. But they say they’ve also found their employees craving in-person connection too: A majority of leaders say their staffs are experiencing virtual-meeting fatigue and that employees see the value of in-person networking.

“When we couldn’t meet [during the pandemic], we all realized how important in-person was,” said Cvent SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Patrick Smith. “In workplaces, there are people who’ve never been to headquarters, and we want to get everybody engaged in the corporate culture. That’s what drove this need to have in-person events for internal uses.”

Meeting just to meet isn’t enough, however—leaders and employees alike want to see value in in-person gatherings. A majority of employees say they want “less frequent but impactful in-person meetings,” according to the report. The report also suggests that there’s an increased interest in gathering data around meeting effectiveness: 92 percent of leaders say they “use metrics to measure the success of internal meetings.”

Smith said that many of the questions that organizations use to measure the effectiveness of their conferences can be used for internal meetings as well. “You can set up a survey,” he said. “What did you like about the experience? Did you enjoy your time on site? Was it valuable? What can be improved?”

Not everybody is going to be satisfied with every hybrid arrangement, and according to the Cvent survey that seems to be especially true of Millennials. While leaders say gen Xers and Boomers generally prefer in-person meetings and that gen Zers prefer virtual gatherings, they’re less certain about Millennials, with 44 percent saying that group prefers in-person while 35 percent say they prefer virtual meetings.

That disconnect, Smith said, speaks to the importance of gathering information about attendees and demonstrating flexibility when it comes to convening staff. As the report puts it: “The future of work is dynamic, built on flexibility. Keeping the ‘human’ element alive and promoting in-person interactions are not just options – they’re the secret sauce for a thriving organization.”

“There’s no doubt flexibility is the rule these days, and I think that flexibility is really driving the need to bring people together all at the same time,” Smith said. “Even if you’re in a mostly back-to-the-office type of environment, you’re going to have people moving in and out. When you bring them together in person in a very intentional way, you have an opportunity to get your employee culture really tight and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

The survey is based on a survey conducted from February 12 to 26 of 250 C-level leaders of organizations who have decision-making power on return-to-office policies.

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